Commentary: Hochul’s justice system budget skimps on defense
The impact of the funding shortfall is especially pronounced in New York City, as low salaries and the skyrocketing cost of living have led to an exodus of experienced defense attorneys and staff. This loss of qualified public defenders, many of whom would have made this vital work their lifelong career if it was sustainable, is a threat to the people facing trial who deserve fair representation.
Even more than a balanced financial plan, a budget should be a statement of balanced priorities. Public defenders with a reasonable caseload can be ready to proceed to trial in a timely manner, helping to reduce stays in deadly jails like Rikers Island. More importantly, defenders bridge the gap in services to many people who are arrested, including identifying issues with mental health and substance use as well as obtaining services that may help avoid incarceration altogether.
View the full Times Union opinion piece here.
NYC Public Defenders Joint Statement on DOI Investigation of Wrongly Recorded Phone Calls in NYC Jails“The widespread, illegal practice described in this investigation undermined one of the most fundamental tenets of the constitutional right to counsel: the ability of people to receive confidential advice from their legal team. Thousands of confidential phone calls between incarcerated people and their attorneys were wrongly recorded, and many were even supplied to district attorneys, the NYPD, and other law enforcement agencies."Press ReleasesSurveillance and Civil Rights
New York City Public Defenders Joint Statement on New York’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget“Governor Hochul and the Legislature’s decision to yet again rollback New York’s bail laws, eliminating the well-established ‘least restrictive conditions’, is unconscionable."Press ReleasesBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration
Public defenders tell legislators not to compromise on discovery reformMore than 50 public defender groups sent a letter on Wednesday to state legislators and their staff pleading with them not to accept last-minute proposals to weaken the state’s landmark discovery law reforms. The reforms, passed as part of the budget in 2019, require prosecutors to promptly provide evidence to the defense. Nearly every public defender group in New York state signed onto the letter, which was shared exclusively with City & State. The letter argues that the 2019 reforms to the discovery process were necessary and that the closed-door discussions about potential changes to the reforms have excluded key stakeholders.In The NewsDiscovery - Access to Evidence
Op-Ed: New York Can’t Put the Blindfold Back On: Legislature Must Reject Rollbacks to State Discovery LawsYung-Mi Lee, President of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Legal Director of Brooklyn Defenders' Criminal Defense Practice, and Mark Funk, President of the Chief Defenders Association of New York, penned an op-ed for Gotham Gazette urging legislators to reject changes to New York's discovery laws.In The NewsDiscovery - Access to Evidence
As Budget Negotiations Continue, Brooklyn Defenders Urges Legislature to Resist Proposals to Upend Discovery and Speedy Trial Reforms"We once again call on New York’s legislators to resist the governor’s and prosecutors’ attempts to weaken these critical reforms, and urge lawmakers to instead use the budget to fulfill the promise of the discovery laws with proper resources.”Press ReleasesDiscovery - Access to Evidence
As Legislators Return to Albany, Brooklyn Defenders Urges No Changes to New York’s Bail and Discovery Laws"These unjust proposals will not make New Yorkers safer - we know the safest communities have the most resources, not the most incarceration. Instead they will erode police, prosecutorial, and judicial accountability and send more New Yorkers to languish in jails longer. As legislators return to Albany for yet another week of budget negotiations, we urge them to stand strong against these attempts to upend the law.”Press ReleasesBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration
Brooklyn Defenders Urges New York State Legislature to Continue to Reject Changes to New York’s Bail Laws“Pretrial detention tears families apart, takes people away from their homes, jobs, and healthcare, and subjects people to dangerous jail conditions. Yet, Governor Hochul has held up the state budget to force through a proposal that would upend New York’s bail laws and condemn even more people to deadly jails pretrial. We urge legislative leaders to hold strong and reject the governor’s attempt to expand pretrial incarceration.”Press ReleasesBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration
Brooklyn Defenders Urges State Lawmakers to Reject Changes to New York’s Discovery Laws“For decades, prosecutors and police in New York were not required to provide crucial evidence, known as ‘discovery,’ to people facing criminal allegations or their attorneys until the eve of trial. Instead, people were coerced to plead guilty blindfolded to the evidence, fueling mass incarceration and wrongful convictions. In 2019, New York enacted new discovery laws, bringing the state from one of the worst on this issue to one of the best in the country."Press ReleasesDiscovery - Access to Evidence
DHS and DOJ's New Proposed Asylum RuleBDS firmly opposes the NPRM in its entirety. If implemented, the NPRM would eviscerate the right to asylum by imposing unlawful manner of entry and transit bans on refugees entering the United States via the southwest border.Public CommentsImmigration Raids & Detention
Complaint: Immigrants in Hudson Valley jail struggle to get medical attentionImmigrants held at the Orange County Correctional Facility are struggling to get medical attention, even when their conditions are serious, according to a complaint sent to officials at the Department of Homeland Security by a group of lawyers and advocates this week.In The NewsImmigration Raids & Detention